When NMU Sophomore clinical psychology major Emi Hunt drove downstate to visit her family in Midland, she thought it was just for a weekend to visit family. Then as NMU began canceling in-person classes she decided it would be safer to stay put until the situation was made clearer. Unfortunately, that never happened and her belongings now sit idle in her dorm just as she left them.
Hunt is just one of many students who faced the dilemma: should they stay at NMU, or should they go. There are a lot of factors that go into the choice to go home or stay, Hunt said. Many college students are dealing with the increasing pressure of having to make a choice to suddenly return home. Hunt didn’t want to return to school and possibly put herself at more risk.
Director of Housing, Jeff Korpi, says NMU has worked hard to ensure students who choose to stay on campus will be safe during the pandemic. Korpi also says NMU is working on providing options for students who eat on campus while still meeting the social distancing guidelines set by the state.
“Northern has been really good at being open with their communication through this crisis,” Hunt said. “They have been urging students who don’t have their stuff to not come back up to help prevent the spread of the virus. Through all this, I feel that everyone has really come together and Northern’s response reflects that.”
Although her belongings are secure, she has been laid off from her job at the University Center as a cook. Since she has moved back home it has put her, and many of her friends, in a harder financial spot. She plans to move into an apartment with a few friends but the virus has left her unemployed and unsure how she will afford rent.
“I’m in a bind and my three roommates are also in a similar situation where we’re not sure how we’re going to afford rent. Many people our age are feeling the financial burden. All we can do is take it one day at a time,” Hunt said.
NMU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has ensured that students who decided to go home have a safe place to store their belongings, and they also have worked with students who decided to stay on campus, Korpi said.
“We want students to feel as safe as possible and if that is allowing them the option to stay here on campus we will make sure students have that option,” Korpi said.
Korpi said that one of the largest effective accommodations has been through dining. The university has worked to provide students with healthy meals while still meeting the recommended safety guidelines set by the state of Michigan.
“Right now we have an amazing team of [Resident Advisors] who are working hard to ensure the safety of all the students here. These students have been instrumental in making sure students feel safe during this pandemic,” Korpi said.
Jess McIntosh, an RA for the third floor of Hunt Hall, has decided to stay during the COVID-19 outbreak to help residents struggling with the pressure of the pandemic.
“People have really found comfort in each other. It’s been really impactful for me to watch my residents bond over such uncertainty. I think it’s a real testament to the culture we have here at Northern,” McIntosh said.
Korpi says Northern’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak has ensured options for students who decide to return home and students who decide to stay. NMU provides updates on its response to the COVID-19 outbreak at www.nmu.edu/covid.
“Something will work out, everyone is working as hard as humanly possible to make it through this. At some point you just need to realize your safety, your family’s safety, is more important than some of these arbitrary worries,” Hunt said.